WASHINGTON -- I don't know if the rest of my fellow citizens feel it, but if I were even half-normal, the events taking place in America recently would make me more than a little depressed.
We started out with the horrible shooting of the Sikhs at their Wisconsin temple, followed by the Newtown, Conn., massacre of the innocents, and moved on to a Cleveland house where three young women had been held captive and abused for 10 years. There was also the fertilizer plant explosion in West, Texas, and most recently the shootings at Santa Monica University.
Many more insults to human dignity occurred in between, but I must have wiped them out of my exhausted memory.
I could ask a lot of questions: Why was the obviously disturbed Lanza boy in Connecticut permitted to have such weaponry? Are these plant explosions really all natural? And was not the Santa Monica gunman, dressed all in black, mimicking the killers he saw in popular entertainment?
But I'm not going to even try to answer those questions. Instead I'm going to focus on some wonderful things that are occurring right under our noses -- things that come silently, on "little cats' feet," drowned out by the din of the killers.
How many of you have heard the story about Callista, the little white and gray cat kidnapped from the Washington Humane Society in the last week in May?
It seems that Callista, about 8 weeks old, was one of the prettiest kitties ever, and she was among many being put up for adoption that weekend when she disappeared. It was pretty obvious that she had been stolen, and the video surveillance footage from the New York Avenue Adoption Center showed that.
Pictures released of the kitten did, indeed, show a pretty kitty. She had a soft, furry white face, chest and all four legs, with her head, back and tail a comely gray. At first, it seemed that she would simply disappear and who knew for what cruel use in a city that often sees children torturing animals. But then, and thank god, the story changed.
The D.C. police "retrieved Callista from a residential address in D.C. ... and returned her to the Washington Humane Society," the press release read. "I couldn't be more pleased with the Metropolitan Police Department," the Humane Society president and CEO Lisa LaFontaine announced. "They took this case seriously for what it was, a theft and a criminal act."
Not surprisingly, offers to adopt Callista came pouring in, and she has found a new home. The perpetrators' names were not yet announced, but the Humane Society insisted that the thieves would go to court for their crime. No one I know could remember when the police had been sent to rescue a stolen KITTY!
Then there is the idea, which I have heard from a number of friends or simply extrapolated from their moods, that the events we are witnessing almost daily in the press (I forgot to mention the plethora of murder trials) are so depressing that this is a time to sit back and do nothing: Don't think because it's too dangerous, and don't care because it's too disappointing.
This has its reasoning, but it's wrong. Instead, this is a time to look our challenges and disappointments in the face by doing something creative and nurturing, something respectful of history and loving of our better natures.
Last week I was invited to a pleasant small dinner for Dr. Maha El-Khalil Chalabi. She is a strikingly handsome Lebanese lady, dark-haired, beautifully dressed and exemplifying all of the best qualities of an educated and worldly woman. As it happens, though, she was traveling not for herself, but for a serious ongoing program to save the ancient city of Tyre in southern Lebanon.
Strangely unknown to most Americans, the ancient Phoenician city of Tyre, which lies on the Lebanese coast a mere 10 miles from the Israeli border, is one of the world's most historic cities, and is ranked with Carthage in Tunisia on the UNESCO World Heritage Site list. But because of the incessant warfare in Lebanon since 1975, the ruins are seriously endangered.
"Tyre is more important today than ever, and that is why we are putting the emphasis on history and the city's artifacts," Chalabi told the group. "Tyre, and South Lebanon, have all suffered. Now we are afraid we are reaching a critical situation. Tyre has many messages for the world. The alphabet was designed there. It was the first city to navigate the Mediterranean to the Atlantic. It brought nations together and diffused knowledge. It designed the purple color and blown glass. It created a consortium of universities."
Right now, Chalabi's International Association to Save Tyre is attempting to raise some millions of dollars for the salvation effort through the original idea of raffling off an original Picasso drawing for 100 euros (approximately $139) a ticket. (Interested persons may apply to www.1picasso100euros.com.)
Many people simply sit back and moan or sigh, saying they are waiting for things to get better. But this is exactly the time to do things, to challenge the history that we are witnessing and say, "No, we want a different world."
So bless all the people who care and do. Bless the police for rescuing that kitten. And bless those people of today's world who realize the importance of saving the past.
(Georgie Anne Geyer has been a foreign correspondent and commentator on international affairs for more than 40 years. She can be reached at gigi_geyer(at)juno.com.)
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